Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Number 357 Route

Whipps Cross to Chingford Hatch
Monday July 2nd  2012

Today was one of those ‘bus days’ when we did more accessing and waiting around than actually being on our ‘key’ buses, so what felt like a long day for short routes... Getting to Whipps Cross roundabout involved South Londoners trekking onto the Victoria Line and then finding the loos at Walthamstow Central had been vandalised, meaning a further expedition was needed to the Selborne Walk Shopping Centre. As Mary said, all the classical music in the world does not make up for either catching the vandals or repairing the damage.

We had a choice of three routes to get us onto Whipps Cross roundabout, where we thought we had last been when catching one of the 56 family of buses. Though a fine double-decker, the 357 runs only 4 times an hour so we had a short wait. A young woman asked the way to Walthamstow Central so we pointed at the buses, but she said she wanted to walk though there was a fine drizzle – hence the blurry photos. For a Monday morning there seemed to be fair bit of traffic, but that gave us time to note the various shop names that stood out.

'Hydroponics' have a very large shop front and seemed to be doing well – clearly growing your crops under lights indoors must eventually prove cost effective.
'Bravissima' turns out to be an estate agent and not an underwear shop for the fuller figure, however 'Fu’nicha'  had folded – furniture stores being one of the first victims of a recession. I hope some one adopts the name though! Conversely, between Whipps Cross and Walthamstow there seemed to be a lot of building and cranes looking hopeful…between the older buildings such as the former Tramways Office.

Also pretty unique is the ‘Shoelaces’ Pub perhaps – if the reviews are to be believed – to be admired for its name from the outside only. By the time we turned at the Bakers Arms into Hoe Street we were slowed down by a slew of police vehicles and several officers on the pavement – some seemed to be staring into the grass surrounding a block of flats so it all looked a bit aimless. 

We did the expected in-and-out back at the Bus station and continued along Hoe Street, crossing by the Bell and along the Chingford Road – I have included some websites which have captured Walthamstow and Chingford then and now as our rainy photos make it hard to distinguish.

Crossing the North Circular was impressive as the road goes below plus numerous pedestrian and cycles pathways – little did we know that within the hour we would be walking there ourselves. 

Of course once over the North Circular the whole character of North London changes from smaller streets and redbrick terraces to the post war and altogether more expansive building.  The main sight along here is the sadly defunct Walthamstow Dog Track with its arresting red and while decorative ironwork. Saving the Stow as the campaign is called is still very live, and it is not clear what the current position is in terms of refurbishment or demolition – surely it is a listed building? Though I suppose that does  not preclude change of use if you think of what happened to Highbury Stadium.

The run on to Chingford Mount was slowed by some road works, and we took on several more passengers who had already done their shopping. Heading right towards Chingford Hatch (from the Mount) necessitates a right turn along New Road – it looks wide on the map and is a double bus route but with cars parked on both sides the driver needed some nifty threading to get by. Larkswood Primary School complete with its    'Comic Sans' font is named for local open space Larkswood Park and soon after we arrived at Hatch Lane, 40 minutes after leaving Whipps Cross. 

With sections of Epping Forest just the other side of the roundabouts and the River Ching close by we had come about as far as we could on this route. The shopping parade where the 357 stops has a fine LCC (London County Council) blazon over the stairwell indicating that these dwellings were put up for the Inner Londoners displaced and made homeless by the bombing on the East End; it must have seemed very far away for them as they stood on the edge of Epping Forest.

Waltham Forest council may be dragging its feet over the disposition of the dog track but we were impressed with its hanging baskets – this year’s colour scheme of pinks and purples was consistent throughout our trip. Additionally we thought the underpass for the North Circular was well maintained and in full flower making a change from the usual litter blown/graffiti strewn smelly stairwells we have encountered elsewhere so I shall enclose a series of floral pictures to counteract the gloom of this particular July day. 

(Why we had to walk under the North Circular crossing and wait an hour will be for Jo to relate some 20 odd buses down the line.) 

12/7/2012 We hope you saw the dog track featuring in this week's episode of  'Twenty-Twelve'  with the fictional campaign ('Hounded Out')  being offered the Olympic Stadium as part of legacy or do we mean sustainability? Way to go... 

1 comment:

  1. Waltham Forest Council recently approved a redevelopment scheme for the Stadium that involves a lot of housing being built but little of it affordable housing. The frontage is listed and has to be preserved. Campaigners are hoping that the Mayor will reverse the Council's approval of the housing scheme. The problem, though, is that campaigners believe they can have a dog track back and make it viable. I think they are incorrect as I can't see that the investment needed to restore the site to working order could ever be paid back. I also think the Mayor will nod through the approval despite the positive noises about the stadium he has made in the past.

    Further the site opposite, which was the former overspill car park, has recently received approval to become a new bus garage for CT Plus who run a number of Walthamstow area routes.

    I think I can guess why you were walking under the roundabout and what bus you were hoping to catch but I won't spoil things.